No matter how attentive you are to the directions, no matter how much you study the quaint, hand-drawn map online, no matter how vigilantly you watch the street addresses numerically climb along Old Sonoma Road – you will inevitably miss Truchard Vineyards. What follows is a three-point turn on a blind, two-lane road, with a single thought in your head: “This wine better be worth the insurance deductible.”
This stunt-driving is a rite of passage, however, that tests not only one’s skills a a motorist but the lengths to which you will go for fine wine. You see, grasshopper, Truchard Vineyards is only visible to those who are ready to see it. And after a few death-defying drive-bys and an ill-advised turn or two across the double-yellow line, I not only saw Truchard Vineyards, I tasted it. And, yes, it’s worth the deductible.
Located on the Napa side of the Carneros wine region, Tony Truchard founded his vineyard in 1974, prior to the appellation’s designation as an independent American Viticultural Area in 1983.
Six years later, Truchard started his own winery, which thrived thanks to his knack for producing excellent wines from a broad spectrum of varietals. Among them is a 2003 Roussanne, a disarming white wine with a lemon grass bouquet and a faintly butterscotch finish. With its mild floral notes of orange blossom and rose, this wine is as good a reason as any to throw a garden party or wear white linen.
The 2001 cabernet franc (the grape from which hybrid cabernet sauvignon gets its “cabernet”) is a meaty, bloody steak of a wine, with a subtle hint of char you only wish you could achieve at the grill. The wine is slightly tight, like an old pair of jeans, which may fit perfectly (again) in a few years. Drink now or later, this wine is built to last.
The chewy, pleasantly viscous 2002 syrah is an ensemble of muted berry notes that takes one’s palate to the brink of strawberry jam, then playfully shies away. It’s got a bit of a metallic bite at first, like a first kiss with someone with braces, which is not a bad thing as I remember.
A good starter wine is the 2002 tempranillo, an uncomplicated, straight-talking table wine with a hint of cassis and crafted for the table. The granddame of Truchard’s current list is the 2001 cabernet sauvignon reserve (a $75 windfall of a wine), which is surprisingly lighter on the palate than one might expect of a cab – it’s svelte, thin in the hips and quietly dynamic. It will make your tongue wish it could dance.
Truchard Vineyards, 3234 Old Sonoma Road, Napa. (707) 253-7153. www.truchardvineyards.com. By appointment only.